By Tyler McConnell
TAMPA, Fla. (Jan 9, 2019)- Last year, the University of South Florida men’s basketball team won seven home games. On Wednesday night, The Bulls earned their seventh straight home win and tenth overall this season with a 66-48 triumph over Tulane University. The win gives USF their most wins in a season since 2013-14.
The Green Wave normally provide a challenge for the Bulls, who had dropped four straight at home against them. This time The Bulls who prove right out of the gate they wouldn’t suffer the same fate.
The game swung in favor of The Bulls early, as they jumped out to a 12-5 lead seven minutes in. The lead would stretch to as high as 14 with just under seven minutes to play in the first half. USF took advantage of Tulane mistakes, scoring 17 points off 15 first half turnovers. Despite Tulane closing the gap to 34-26 at halftime, USF was never in jeopardy.
The trio of David Collins, Laquincy Rideau and Mayan Kiir combined for 12 steals. Tulane’s turnover woes continued throughout the night, as they finished the game with 26. The offensive production from proved to be too much for Tulane, who lost their first game against USF in Tampa since 2005. USF shot 43 percent from the field and scored 34 points in the paint.
Redshirt freshman Alexis Yetna led the way for USF with 15 points and 11 rebounds, his eighth double-double on the year. Head coach Brian Gregory is still expecting more out of his star freshman.
“You guys know I love Lex [Alexis] but I didn’t think he played as well as he’s capable tonight, but he gets a double-double,” Gregory said. “He’s working on his game and you can see his skill developing.”
Yetna’s abilities show up on the stat sheet. His eight double-doubles rank first in the American Athletic Conference. Even he acknowledged what his coach said, it could’ve been a better night for him.
“I didn’t think I played a good game still, I got four turnovers, way too much,” Yetna said. “I just try to go back out and try to go hard.”
Yetna’s play tonight showed where USF as a program is. The Bulls, though not perfect, continue to find ways to grind out wins and play their opponents tough, win or lose. Their 2-1 start in AAC play is their best start in conference play since they joined the league in 2013-14. Their style of tough, physical play will make it difficult for any team to keep them down. The win improves USF to 12-3 overall, while Tulane falls to 4-11.
The USF Bulls will travel for a huge showdown in Philadelphia with the 12-3 Temple Owls on January 12
The Tulane Green Wave will return home to take on the Memphis Tigers on January 13